FIDA Nigeria lends her voice to mark the World Day Against Human Trafficking 2019. Today serves as a prime opportunity to draw the attention of the world at large and especially Nigerians to the menace of human trafficking. It is impossible for you not to have heard the stories about the young children that are sent from their villages to live and work with their relatives and strangers in town, or the young woman that is smuggled into a foreign country in hopes of a better life, only to find out that she will have to spend the rest of her days paying for the price with her private parts. All too often the stories end like that of little ‘Ochanya’, sorrow, pain, exploitation, abuse and sometimes death.
FIDA Nigeria is definitely no stranger to these stories, we have handled too many cases and as an organisation with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women in Nigeria, we loudly lend our voice to call on all to act against human trafficking. The UNODC reports that 70% of human trafficking victims are women and girls and that 30% of human trafficking victims are children, of this, 23% are girls and 7% are boys. The exploitation of human beings is an abhorrent crime that humanity has sought to abolish since the days of the slave trade. Various international conventions, of which Nigeria is a signatory, guarantee the freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment and the freedom from trafficking and exploitation.
Article 3, paragraph (a) of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the ‘recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’ In Nigeria, human trafficking is specifically criminalised under the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003. Despite these provisions, human trafficking remains the second most lucrative form of organised crime in the world and the worst part is that human trafficking is a dynamic crime that often results in other crimes. For instance, if a child is trafficked and forced into a marriage, the trafficking is a crime and the forced marriage is a crime.
This year, the UN has chosen to use the day to encourage all to call government to action. FIDA Nigeria joins this move and calls the Nigerian government to action, to put greater protective and security measures in place to curtail the crime of human trafficking. State borders and national borders need to be better regulated to ensure that humans are not subject to illegal transportation and exploitation.
FIDA Nigeria however, goes a step further to call all Nigerian citizens to action. The truth is that there would be no supply if there was no demand. We all have a role to play in identifying victims and not using their services. Next time you want to get a ‘cheaper’ house help from the village, think about it and ensure that no one will be exploited in the process. It’s not just a global problem or a national problem, it is a local problem and so we all need to be conscious about the role we play.
FIDA Nigeria will continue to do all it can to fight against human trafficking and we will continue to partner with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) to ensure that women and children can live in a society free from exploitation and abuse.
FIDA NIGERIA stands against all forms of trafficking humans, let’s put an end to it.
Every human being matters, respect their dignity.
Rhoda Prevail Tyoden
Country Vice President/National President
National publicity secretary
A one-day workshop for ‘the Development of a Standard Operating Procedure for Handling Gender Based Violence Cases’ at NAPTIP, was held on the 17 July 2019 in Abuja
In Attendance was, Rhoda Prevail Tyoden (Country Vice President of FIDA Nigeria), Amina Agbaje (Deputy Country Vice president of FIDA Nigeria) and Racheal Adejo (Chairperson of Abuja Branch, FIDA Nigeria). The Director General of NAPTIP, Dame Julie Okah-Donli was represented by Mrs. Ebele Ulasi the Director Counselling and Rehabilitation, NAPTIP. Mr. Sebastian Shikel represented Oxfam, the donor. Various departments from NAPTIP such as Counselling and Rehabilitation department; Legal and Prosecution department; Intelligence Officers attached to NAPTIP; The welcome and opening address was delivered by Rhoda Prevail Tyoden, the Country Vice President. A few goodwill messages were delivered by representatives of Oxfam and NAPTIP.
Training and Manpower department; Research and Programs Development department and Investigation and Monitoring department were all represented.
The workshop started at about 10:00am, with an overview of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015. The participants broke into groups to brain storm on the content of the SOP. The first group looked at ‘Coordination Mechanism’; the second group looked at ‘Case Management and Referrals Pathways’; the third group considered ‘Prevention’ and the fourth group discussed ‘Documentation, Data and Monitoring’.
Each group considered various incidences, the operational procedure, the Standard observation of organizational ethics that needs to be adhered to, the department that is responsible and the time frame within which actions needs to be taken.
After deliberations, group representatives made presentations and the workshop came to a close. A subsequent Validation meeting will be held at an agreed date
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria is disheartened by the viral video which shows Justice Elizabeth Karatu, Justice of the High Court of Kebbi State, being prevented from entering the courtroom by a staff of the Civil Defense Corps. The video is a depressing depiction of the lowly regard that is had for the law and for the judicial arm of government, in this country.
In the viral video, Justice Karatu can be heard explaining to the Corps officer that she only wanted to deliver her judgements as she still had one more day before her retirement was to take effect, to which the officer responds that he is working on instructions from management and that she should speak to them. As a result, Justice Karatu was prevented from entering the court and consequently, innocent people were denied their right to a prompt and fair trial.
In response to the video, the Commandant General of the Civil Defense Corps, Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu has said that the Corps officer was only trying to prevent the court room from being vandalised, as the court room was under lock and key. It is contended that such an excuse is belittling of the Judge’s position in the court. It is worth noting that a few months ago, Justice Karatu was denied confirmation as Chief Judge of Kebbi state on allegations that her primary school certificate was altered. Alternative allegations suggest her denial was based on her religious beliefs, since she is a Christian and the people of Kebbi State are predominantly Muslim.
As is stated in the preamble of the Code of Conduct for judicial officers, “an independent, strong, respected and respectable Judiciary is indispensable for the impartial administration of Justice in a democratic State”. The treatment of the most senior judge in the state, a day before her retirement, highlights a lack of respect and regard for her position as judicial officer of the state. The saga surrounding the denial of Justice Karatu’s appointment, coupled with the embarrassing treatment depicted in the video point to the larger issue of the denigration of the judiciary in Nigeria. The viral video just throws light on how the integrity and high status on the third arm of government is being ridiculed.
As an organisation with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children, FIDA Nigeria further contends that the treatment of Justice Karatu also points to the marginalisation and discrimination against women which is evident in various spheres of the Nigerian society. Unfortunately, the courts of justice are not even exempt from this. From female judges like Justice Nyako being divested of cases as a result of their husbands trials, to female judges like Justice Karatu who are hardhanded out of office, reports suggest that the treatment of female judges has been discriminatory. FIDA Nigeria uses this opportunity to call for an end to the discriminatory and disrespectful treatment meted out on Justice Karatu and other female judges in Nigeria.
FIDA Nigeria joins the Nigerian Bar Association in calling for an end to the intimidation and harassment of judicial officers all over the country and for further investigations to be made into the incident.
RHODA PREVAIL TYODEN
COUNTRY VICE PRESIDENT/NATIONAL PRESIDENT
NATIONAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY
The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria vehemently condemns the physical assault and verbal abuse meted out by Senator Elijah Cliff Abbo on an innocent woman, and his undignified use of his police orderly in an Abuja Sex Toy Shop. As an organization with a mandate to promote, protect and preserve the rights of women and children in Nigeria, FIDA Nigeria cannot sit by idly while innocent women’s right to humane and dignified treatment are infringed upon. It is especially disheartening when the perpetrator of the abuse is a government official and is supposed to be a public servant.
FIDA Nigeria condemns this outlandish act of violence exhibited by a Federal Government official in a public place and call for justice to be served. We demand that Senator Elijah Abbo be held legally accountable for the violations he is responsible for. In the viral video, Senator Abbo can be seen violating numerous provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015. This includes Section 2, by inflicting physical injury on another, after he slapped the woman multiple times, dragged her by her head and pushed her into a wooden shelf. Section 4, by wilfully placing a person in fear of physical injury, after he asked his Police orderly to carry the woman away and he warned another woman to be careful or he would slap her too. Section 10, by depriving the woman of her liberty after his Police orderly acceded, and forcefully dragged the woman out of the shop. Section 14 and 18 by inflicting emotional, verbal and psychological abuse of the two women with his insults and aggressive shouting.
The Senator’s behaviour also violates the fundamental rights of the women guaranteed under Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria. The lawmaker can also be seen violating many ethics and codes of conduct expected of public officials. Furthermore, the Senator showed a blatant disregard for the sanctity of the Nigerian Police Force by belittling his orderly to a private warrior. The Senator’s behaviour is not only a crime, it is also unconstitutional and uncouth. As the youngest senator in office, this is a very poor representation of the potential of youth leadership. True leaders do not exhibit the sort of behaviour that Senator Elijah Abbo can be seen displaying in the video.
A lawmaker should not be seen violating the law so blatantly in a public place. Respect to Rule of Law and the protection of the fundamental rights of the citizenry is the foundation of any democratic society, and so this issue must be dealt with in accordance with the Rule of Law, and with due regard for fundamental Rights. A lawmaker should not be seen to be acting above the law and fostering the culture of impunity. FIDA Nigeria calls on the Nigerian Police and the Senate to ensure that all violators of the rights of these women are held accountable. No man is above the law.
FIDA Nigeria demands forthwith for a Public Apology by Senator Elijah Abbo to the woman and all Nigerians for his abhorrent behaviour and for compensation for the woman and payment of all bills incurred as a result of the incident.
FIDA Nigeria calls on the Police to arrest and fully prosecute all liable and to ensure that the rights of the Nigerian citizenry are truly preserved and protected.
FIDA Nigeria furthermore calls on the Senate to likewise condemn the action of it’s erring member, and to look into the matter and ensure that having erred he is adequately disciplined having breached code of conduct rules thereby preserving the integrity of the Senate.
FIDA NIGERIA pledges to support these women who have been violated, we pledge that we shall use all legal measures to continue to protect the rights of all Women and children.
We demand justice for these women.
RHODA PREVAIL TYODEN
COUNTRY VICE PRESIDENT/NATIONAL PRESIDENT
NATIONAL PUBLICITY SECRETARY